October 6, 2019

Social Determinants of Health

PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) recently published Social Determinants of Health, a report that examines how social factors such as employment, housing, education and transportation can undermine healthcare best practices.

This report utilizes many of PWC’s resources, including a global June 2019 survey of 8,000 people across eight countries, along with interviews with healthcare organization leaders, and an analysis of more than 20 case studies to address social determinants of health.

Despite increases to life expectancy, healthcare spending, and improved health outcomes, chronic health conditions such as obesity continue to rise, putting large portions of the population at risk for more serious chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It is estimated that 80% of a person’s health is attributable to health behaviors related to their physical environment and socioeconomic conditions, and so it is important that various healthcare stakeholders consider social determinants in the course of care.

According to the survey component of this report:

  • 35% of respondents cited a lack of sleep as a top impediment to a healthy lifestyle
  • 26% of respondents said too much time with technology prevented healthy habits
  • 20% of respondents could not afford aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as healthy food and gym memberships

In highlighting societal factors that determine health, the study found an interesting split between different developed nations. The U.S. currently has a 66% obesity rate, while Japan had a 26% rate. While there are likely many cultural differences that result in such different obesity rates, the study states that in the U.S., per capita sugar consumption is almost twice that of Japan.

More research is needed to better identify what specific social determinants have the greatest impact on care, and which can be best utilized in workers’ comp, but this report offers five steps to approach healthcare from a more socially conscious route. These steps include:

  • Building collective will to address social determinants of care among various stakeholders
  • Developing standard but adaptable frameworks so health coalition partners can align efforts
  • Generating data insights to inform decision making
  • Engaging and reflecting the community
  • Measuring and redeploying strategies

For further information, read the report in full.

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